HARRISBURG – Agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation have filed criminal charges against western New York State residents accused of manufacturing methamphetamine in a “rolling” lab that was discovered during a traffic stop near Erie.
Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan identified the defendants as Eric James Fuhs, age 42; Marie Lynn Kopta, age 38; Alexandria Nichole Gibbs, age 18; and John M. Gibbs, age 20, all of 20 Burton St., Ripley, New York.
Ryan said the defendants allegedly used a “one pot” lab method to manufacture meth while driving back and forth between Erie and Ripley, New York, after purchasing pseudoephedrine cold medicine and other supplies from pharmacies and other stores in and around Erie. Waste products generated during the production of meth, including flammable and caustic chemicals, were allegedly placed in plastic soda bottles and thrown from the moving car as the defendants traveled along Interstate 90 and other roads in northwestern Pennsylvania.
“Meth labs always pose a risk to public safety because of the potentially explosive nature of the chemicals and the process, but these individuals allegedly elevated that risk to an entirely new level by randomly tossing lab waste from the windows of a moving car,” Ryan said.
According to the criminal complaint, a fully functional “one pot” meth lab was located in a car operated by Marie Kopta, which was stopped by authorities on March 19th near a pharmacy on Peach Street in Erie. Kopta, Fuhs and Alexandria Gibbs were in the vehicle when it was stopped.
Ryan said the vehicle was searched by members of the Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Lab Response Team, who secured ingredients and equipment necessary to manufacture meth.
Ryan said the defendants were initially identified by investigators based on a suspicious pattern of pseudoephedrine purchases in the Erie area. Their vehicle was stopped after agents were alerted that they were in the process of purchasing more pseudoephedrine.
Eric James Fuhs and Marie Lynn Kopta are both charged with one count each of operating a meth lab, manufacture or possession of a meth with intent to deliver, criminal conspiracy, illegally dumping meth waste and recklessly endangering other people, along with three counts of possession of meth precursor chemicals.
Alexandria Nichole Gibbs is charged with two counts of manufacturing meth, one count of criminal conspiracy and three counts of possession of meth precursor chemicals.
John M. Gibbs is charged with one count each of manufacturing meth, criminal conspiracy and possession of meth precursor chemicals.
All four defendants were arrested today in Ripley, New York, by deputies from the Chautauqua County New York Sheriff’s Department. They are currently being held in Chautauqua County pending extradition to Pennsylvania.
Ryan thanked members of the North East Police Department, Millcreek Police Department, Girard Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department and D.E.A. Task Force for their cooperation and assistance with this ongoing investigation.